The White Pill

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“Lin seems like a troubled kid,” Jarrod says and gulps down more coffee.

“Hmm-hmm.” Deborah nods and looks out the window. The world is all white – out there. Jarrod’s condo is grey and brown because he didn’t have time to finish the planned do-over after his divorce. But this summer …

Carrie and Lin must be up now. Maybe Lin has already been picked up. Should I have stayed? No, Carrie wouldn’t have wanted that …

“Should I speak to the counselor at Cuyahoga?” Jarrod asks, mouth full of scrambled eggs, “just to get an idea of how much help she gets there?”

Deborah raises a brow. “I thought you counselors weren’t allowed that? Confidentiality … ”

“This may be a special case – ” Jarrod proceeds to attack the bacon. He seems hungry as if he had been at it all night. Deborah knows he hasn’t.

“ – We’re allowed to notify relevant authorities,” Jarrod says with trained patience. “Everyone is. And as you said earlier, neither of the girls is volunteering much information.”

“Carrie says Lin does get counseling at Cuyahoga. And I believe she is seeing a psychologist as well.” Deborah sips some tea but not much. Jarrod only has Earl Grey which is three months too old. But she didn’t decline.

“Okay,” Jarrod says and then something more, but Deborah doesn’t hear it.

I wonder if I can keep this up a week more without going all the way? He sure wants to, even tonight. Using Lin as an excuse wasn’t the best, but I am really thinking about what’s going to happen to that poor girl. And what happens to Carrie, when she finds out that maybe Lin is not going to be alright? Like my mother, like my brother, like …

“… and Lin is from one of the better-off families.” Jarrod continues his analysis and pours more coffee – his third cup. “They should be able to afford anything for her – doesn’t matter with insurance and all …”

“Hmm-hmm.”

“I mean it is Theodoris Christakis’ daughter. My God, he really made it big with that new program for – what was it? – Dell computers? I have a Dell myself …”

“Jarrod?”

“Yes?”

“Do you have more aspirins?”

“Sure – I’ll go get one.”

“Make that two.”

He hesitates briefly, then he is off. A few moments to think …

It hasn’t been easy for Carrie since we moved over here. I haven’t been easy. She hasn’t been easy. Nothing is goddamn easy. Why can’t it ever be? If only I could find a steady job. If only that asshole, Calum, would call her more often and not just sit at the pub and sulk with his ‘chums’ …

Deborah stands up and goes to the window. Jarrod’s condo is not far away from her own, but there is a world of difference. There is an actual view here, to one of the lakes, not to granite industry blocks whose only redeeming feature is that they are blocking the view to one of the freeways.

There is a world of white out there now. The lake is white, too, and below it … ice.

Used to love skating, when I was Carrie’s age. Now I’ll probably fall on my ass …

She closes her eyes, but the white is still there. Or she wishes for it to be there, soothing, in her mind. She remembers the fights. Not Lin’s. Her own fights with Carrie.

Deborah had heard all the gossip about that family, about how Lin’s father died. She had argued that maybe Carrie and Lin should ‘take it easy’ after that Christmas party, where they suddenly became peas and carrots.

But Carrie had hungered for new friends, any friends. And it had been a rough start at Cuyahoga Heights High. And how many times had Carrie come back after school and locked herself in her room and Deborah knew she was crying? Carrie vehemently refused to admit it, much less talk about it, but Deborah was sure. How many times …?

I have not been able to give my daughter a good life after I talked her into going with me instead of staying in Scotland. It was for the best, wasn’t it? Calum is so deep in the bottle now he can’t take care of the bloody dog …

And what would be left for a 16-year old girl on that rock anyway? Carrie already hated Skye after all the problems she had had there, in school and everything …

No, I have done her a favor. It is hard, it takes time. But it is for the best that she stays here, get to know her grandparents and uncles more. Gets a fresh start …

“Here are the aspirins.”

Deborah opens her eyes and sees the two white pills in Jarrod’s outstretched palm.

“You look like you could use them.” With the other hand, he takes her untouched glass of juice from the table and hands it to her.

Deborah hesitates for a moment. Then she takes just one of the pills and puts it in the corner of her mouth, thoughtfully, as if it was a piece of altar bread.

She takes the glass but puts it back on the table. “I have to go. Carrie is probably a bit out of it after last night.”

“I thought you said she didn’t want to talk about Lin’s problems with you?” Jarrod breathes heavily, glances at the juice like he is torn about giving it back to her or not. “Don’t you think it’s better to stay here awhile and then we can discuss how you and Carrie best can-”

“No.” She brushes past him to the hallway for her coat, then stops for a brief moment and looks back. “I have to try to talk to her again.”

“I don’t think she wants to, Deb. I have seen this attitude in a lot of kids her age.” He crosses his arms. “It takes time to thaw. You have to consider-”

“I’m sorry. I’ll see you Monday, okay?” And then she is out the door and into the white.

It is also a world of cold, of icicles on roofs, of road signs glazed over. But it is a cold that clears the mind.

Deborah spits out the pill and heads for home.

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